Introducing a brand new thought leadership event from 5280.

Join us for an afternoon of conversations with prominent local voices as we discuss the future of Denver in three separate panels. Reserve your spot today!

Event Information


Tuesday, April 11, 2023
2-5 p.m.


Jake Jabs Event Center
1475 Lawrence St. | Denver, CO


Register to save your seat.

Program Schedule

2:00 PMProgram Begins
2:20 PM – 3:05 PMSession 1: The Future of Downtown Denver
3:15 PM – 4:00 PMSession 2: The Future of Living in Denver
4:10 PM – 4:55 PMSessions 3: The Future of Outdoor Recreation
5:00 PM – 6:00 PMHappy Hour @ Tamayo!

Session Topics + Panelists

Meet the Panelists:

Kourtny Garret

CEO, Downtown Denver Partnership

The Downtown Denver Partnership announced Kourtny Garrett as its President and CEO in January 2022. Garrett joined the Partnership from Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI), where she served as President and CEO for nearly seven years. With nearly 25 years of experience in the development of livable communities, Garrett is fueled by a passion for cities. Her expertise is rooted in building social, cultural and economic vibrancy, creating places for people that provide access and opportunity for all. The mantra of her life and her work follows the great Jane Jacobs’, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” While in Dallas, Garrett worked on the revitalization of Downtown through a period that included more than $11 billion of investment, public-private partnerships that brought more than 40 vacant buildings back to life, and a steady rise in residents from just a few hundred to more than 13,000. One of her most proud achievements was a decade-long process to create Downtown Dallas’ first public elementary school with Dallas ISD. Prior to her work in Downtown Dallas, Garrett led community relations work for Children’s health, with particular focus on hospital network expansion. Her career started in community relations, government relations and retail development at a then- new lifestyle center in Southlake, Texas. Garrett is a Marshall Memorial Fellow and an honorary member of the Texas Society of Architects and AIA-Dallas. She is a several-time honoree of many Dallas-based media awards such as Forty Under 40 (2009), 78 Women Who Make Dallas Great (2021) and Dallas-Fort Worth’s 500 Most Influential Business Leaders (2016-2021). In addition, her long-standing commitment to the Dallas community included roles on Dallas ISD’s Business Advisory Board, and the Boards of Directors of Children’s Health, the Dallas Regional Chamber and a long list that includes public, non-profit and community organizations. Garrett has expanded her work nationally and internationally through research and participation in the International Downtown Association, German Marshall Foundation, Brookings Institute and the International Business of Cities. She has published through many of these organizations, working toward the health and vitality of city centers across the globe. Garrett, originally from Colorado, was selected to lead the Downtown Denver Partnership from over 400 candidates through a national executive search.

Ken Schroeppel

Director of Urban Design, Assistant Professor,
College of Architecture and Planning

Ken Schroeppel is the Director of Urban Design and an Assistant Professor CTT in the College of Architecture and Planning, where he teaches in both the Master of Urban and Regional Planning and Master of Urban Design programs. Ken’s areas of interest and expertise include land use and transportation planning, data collection and planning methodologies, data visualization and graphic design, urban design, urban morphology, urban development, bike/ped/transit advocacy, and Denver’s urban planning and development history. Prior to his joining the full-time faculty in 2012, Ken worked for many years in private practice as a planning consultant and project manager.

Carrie Makarewicz

Associate Professor & Department Chair,
College of Architecture and Planning

Dr. Makarewicz is an associate professor and department chair at the University of Colorado Denver. She joined the faculty in 2013 and. Her research focuses on how the interactions among public investments, development, and public policies affect human development, through their effects on household income, accessible and safe neighborhoods, housing affordability, individual health and well-being, access to regional opportunities, and environmental quality. Her work has examined access to public transportation and active modes, affordable housing outcomes, how the built environment affects families’ daily lives, public-private initiatives focused on arts and sustainability, and post-disaster housing recovery. In her five years at the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), she co-developed the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index and worked on programs for equitable approaches to carsharing, energy efficiency, green buildings, and transit-oriented development. She has been an active member of several committees focused on equity in planning, including STAR Community Index’s Affordability and Equity Technical Advisory Committee for eight years; the Task Force for the American Planning Association’s Planning for Equity Policy Guide; the Public Schools Interest Group in the American Planning Association, Meow Wolf Denver’s Community Advisory Committee to guide and track the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility commitments; the City of Denver’s COVID Mobility Task Force; and the Auraria Campus’s Gentrification and Urban Displacement Task Force. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in Urban Planning and Public Affairs from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Meet the Panelists:

Jeremy Nemeth

Professor of Urban and Regional Planning,
College of Architecture and Planning, CU Denver

Jeremy Németh is a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Director of the PhD in Geography, Planning, and Design at the University of Colorado Denver, where he has been a faculty member since 2007. His research looks at how planners, designers, and city dwellers can help create more socially and environmentally just places. He is particularly interested in the relationship between the built environment and social equity, and his recent work examines issues of “green gentrification,” shrinking cities, disaster justice, and transportation equity. His current projects focus on how planners can build more immigrant-friendly neighborhoods, and how COVID-19 rates have been shaped by legacies of redlining and other historically-racist urban policies.

David Nisivoccia

CEO, Denver Housing Authority

As Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver (DHA), David Nisivoccia is responsible for the oversight and operation of the largest public housing authority in the State of Colorado, Rocky Mountain region and one of the largest in the nation. Nisivoccia is leading a number of DHA’s community investments in the planning and implementation phases, including the Sun Valley Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant (CNI), the City Affordably Housing Bond Program, also known as DHA Deliver’s for Denver (D3), new partnerships for Permanente Supportive Housing (PSH) initiatives, capital projects such as Gateway, 655 Broadway/ Studebaker, Shoshone Street, 13th Avenue realignment, maintenance and preservation of public housing, sustainability and Energy Performance Contract (EPC) the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative (WDRC), Resident Self-sufficiency, Homeownership and financial counseling programs, ConnectHome USA, Community Connections education, employment and training programs, including but not limited to the Osage Café and Arts Street. Nisivoccia oversees a workforce of nearly 380 DHA employees, an annual budget of $339.1MM and assets valued at $721MM. Serving over 25,000 residents with over 5,400 affordable housing units within the portfolio and administers over 7,000 Housing Choice Vouchers. Mr. Nisivoccia has more than 25 years of executive and senior management experience in affordable housing. Prior to joining DHA, Nisivoccia served in positions with the housing authorities of Fairfax County, Virginia; Clearwater, Florida; Tampa, Florida; Fort Pierce, Florida and San Antonio, Texas. In San Antonio he served as President and CEO and expanded the agency’s affordable housing portfolio by approximately 2,000 units, realigned the capital program strategy to improve efficiency, implemented an Energy Performance Contract program (EPC) and grew the Community Development Initiatives Department to expand human service programs benefiting SAHA residents. Nisivoccia has a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey.

Peter Wall

Director of Government Affairs, Denver Metro Association of Realtors

Bio coming soon!

Meet the Panelists:

Brian Buma

Associate Professor, Biologyning
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, CU Denver

Brian Buma is an ecology professor and published author. His work focuses on dynamic change in ecosystems—from wildfires to landslides to the ordinary migration of species in response to changing climates. He utilizes a range of methods, from field expeditions to satellite imagery, to gain a unique perspective on regional and global questions. Buma led an expedition to the back of Glacier Bay, Alaska, to rediscover the oldest running permanent plot network in the world. He is also leading the field documenting the effects of snow loss on forests around the world, running studies in the boreal of Alaska and high country of Colorado and chairing international sessions on the topic.

Luis Benitez

Vice President for Government Affairs and Global Impact,
VF Corporation

Luis Benitez is the Vice President for government affairs and global impact at the VF Corporation, a $10 billion dollar holding company that includes some of the outdoor industry’s most iconic brands such as The North Face and Vans and Timberland. Luis also Prior to joining the VF Corporation, Mr. Benitez was appointed by serves as the President of the VF Foundation. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to lead the then newly established Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in 2015. In that role, he transformed the outdoor industry into a powerful force for economic development, conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, and public health and wellness. Under his watch, the state’s outdoor economy ballooned from $28 billion to $65 billion. Prior to this role Mr. Benitez was the Director of Talent Management for Vail Resorts helping them to both create their internal University as well as foster a deeper talent pipeline for the ski industry globally. Mr. Benitez also spent a decade managing the well-established leadership development school, Outward Bound Professional in Colorado at the start of his career. He also served as the COO for Adventure Consultants, a New Zealand-based global expedition firm with a long and storied history of leading trips on Mount Everest that was featured both in the book Into Thin Air and in the movie Everest. Mr. Benitez has summitted Mt. Everest six times. In his philanthropic journey, Mr. Benitez helped create the nonprofit Trekking For Kids, which focuses on service-based expeditions allowing participants to climb and trek while teaching them about local issues like housing and healthcare for disadvantaged youth around the world. He was also a founding partner for Warriors to Summits, a nonprofit focusing on serving veterans by connecting them with the outdoors. He has also served as an adjunct professor in Ecuador and Chile for the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Benitez holds a professional guide accreditation from ASEGUIM in Ecuador and an Executive MBA from the University of Denver with an emphasis certification on behavioral sciences and public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Mark Eller

Director of Foundations and New Business, Leave No Trace

As the Director of Foundations and New Business, Mark Eller connects family foundations, government grant programs and for-profit companies with the award-winning work that Leave No Trace does to protect natural resources. He draws on 17 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, and the communications skills he developed as an editor of several nationally published magazines. He’s passionate about the outdoors and enjoys exploring it with his family from their homebase in Boulder, Colorado.



Business or business casual attire is encouraged.

Below are nearby paid parking options. Please take into consideration the time it takes to park and walk over to the venue when planning your arrival.

Snacks courtesy of Maria Empanada, plus coffee will be available for guests to enjoy.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

See You Soon!


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